Venice firefighters want ambulance service from county

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VENICE, FL - Firefighter union leaders in Venice believe the city could make money by taking over ambulance service from the county. Thursday county officials saying it's move they don't want to make but if the city wants to handle the service they can have it.Sarasota County's fire chief believes they actually operate the three stations in the city at a loss. Union leaders dispute those figures.

Those representing Venice firefighters say by taking over the EMS service from the county the city would make enough for the equipment and 29 new employees. In return those new workers hired with less benefits would help out in the current unfunded pension program.

However, Sarasota County Fire Chief Mike Tobias says it sounds good but from their numbers it's not the right move. He estimates that if the three ambulances in the county were separated the city would lose money."We are able to enjoy a large labor pool. We have a large reserve supply of equipment and vehicles. We just think that the size of Sarasota County Fire Department and backing those three EMS stations provides a better level of service for the citizens."

Jerry Collins with the union says the department would make plenty. "We are certainly not saying the county does not provide a good level of service. We are just saying that it will help control the service within our area and it will control that the city's residents tax dollars are being spent within the city."

The county says their estimates are based on an average of what all stations do. Union leaders say because Venice has an older population they're busier. Chief Tobias says that may be true but that also means more people on Medicare and they get much less for those calls for service compared to private insurance.

We will have the full report coming up this evening on ABC 7.